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Elusive Haqqani network chief Sirajuddin plays mind games to avoid drone attack - releases childhood photo

 
By Mrityunjoy Kumar Jha
New Delhi, Nov 22: It has been three months and yet the world is yet to see the recent picture of the interior minister of the Taliban regime - Sirajuddin Haqqani, the dreaded terror chief of Haqqani Network (HQN) who carries a bounty of $10 million on his head.


The group's leader obviously fears a drone attack. Naturally, he is going the extra mile to hide his physical identity.

Nevertheless, a childhood picture of the elusive Sirajuddin has surfaced on social media, which shows him carrying a Ak-47 rifle. In the picture, young Sirajuddin was sitting with the weapon while his father Jalalluddin Haqqani was offering Namaz at some remote undefined place during jihad against the Soviets.

This picture first appeared in 2016 with the caption: Childhood picture of the deputy - potential to be Taliban leader - Sirajuddin Haqqani.

The same picture surfaced again with the supporters of Haqqani saying that "if he would have been afraid of weapons, Khalifa Sirajuddin Haqqani could not have been a great leader." It is obvious that the Haqqanis do not wish to create an impression among their followers that they are afraid of the Americans by avoiding release of a recent picture. The resurfacing of the old picture has once again been used to create a narrative of Sirajuddin's valour.

Confirming that this was indeed a picture of his elder brother, Anas Haqqani retweeted Sirajuddin's picture with a profound comment in his post.

"If we had hated weapons, we would have kept ourselves and our generation away from them. Would we be proud to defeat the occupation and gain independence now?!

"We are the people of books, pens, culture and literature and we consider keeping weapons as an ornament to protect our religion, homeland and values," Anas Haqqani wrote.

Sirajuddin Haqqani may be a great saviour for his militant cadre but the truth is he is still a most wanted UN designated terrorist for the US who still has not a recent picture other than a single photograph where the face is not seen clearly.

Interestingly, after taking charge as the interior minister in the Taliban regime, Sirajuddin Haqqani's first public appearance was last month where he was seen felicitating family members of his "martyred" suicide bombers. In an official photo of the event at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, the target of deadly Taliban attacks in 2011 and 2018, Haqqani can barely be seen sitting behind a strategically placed floral arrangement onstage. Haqqani's face was either blurred or artfully hidden behind warm embraces with attendees of the event. But these blurred images of the most powerful ISI backed person in the Taliban, have blurred the Taliban's attempts to cast itself as a more moderate and transparent version than when it was last in power.

Experts believe that Haqqani's current appearance is being obscured to protect him from those who might want to cash in on the reward of millions of dollars. According to multiple intelligence sources, one of the most dreaded terrorists and heir of the terror group Haqqani Network, Sirajuddin Haqqani is "scared" about his security in Kabul and he keeps frequently changes location and keeps his movements secret out of fear that Washington will target him using remotely piloted drones.

And there is a growing internal conflict in the Taliban where there is an open war between the defence minister and son of the Taliban Mullah Yaqoob and Haqqanis after Haqqani's uncle Khalil Haqqani shot at the Taliban deputy Mullah Baradar during the government formation. Since then the two groups have their own security.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

--indianarrative